When choosing a topic for Inquiry 2A and 2A, I wanted to do something related to my major, psychology. Depression seemed to be an underlying theme in the book we read, which was “Freedom” by Jonathan Franzen, which is why my Inquiry 2B paper focused on the mental troubles of three main characters. Research wasn’t very difficult as Miami’s databases provided all the information needed. Compiling the information into a complete essay was easy, as the research would be used for the second essay. Using this research as a jumping point for the Inquiry 2B helped to guide the essay towards more empirical research. Knowing the direction that the essay would be analyzing characters’ mental states based on statements and actions in the book), this research made it easy to decide what to focus on. Incorporating sources from 2A helped put perspective on 2B by having information to tie into specific examples.
Garfield, Sara F., Felicity J. Smith, Sally-Anne Francis. “The Paradoxical Role of Antidepressant Medication – Returning to Normal Functioning While Losing the Sense of Being Normal.” Journal of Mental Health (October 2003) 12.5 521 – 53.
Using primarily interviews, Garfield et al. give insightful views into the generally foggy world of antidepressant usage. The research focuses mainly on patients’ difficulties and successes while using antidepressants, and how they generally see where the usage of antidepressants fit into their lives. The research enables one to see the affects of antidepressants from several different viewpoints. It agrees with the other articles in agreeing that the usage of antidepressants are a necessary thing for many Americans, yet are still a taboo topic. The research will help me to look into several patients’ experiences with antidepressants and how it has affected their life.
Klitzman, Robert. “A Doctor Disagrees.” Newsweek 155.6 Web. 8 February 2010.
The article focuses on a psychiatrist who decides to take antidepressants, to good use. He argues against a recent report saying that antidepressants aren’t as affective in treating patients as previously thought. He gives insightful ideas into how to eliminate the stigma associated with antidepressants and depression. The article originally brings in the complaint that antidepressants aren’t as affective, but it actually helps strengthen the argument for continued usage of antidepressants in certain groups of users. The piece works in tangent with the other articles, as it gives helpful ways to reduce the stigma, and it focuses on defending the usage of antidepressants.
Smardon, Regina. “’I’d Rather Not Take Prozac’: Stigma and Commodification in Antidepressant Consumer Narratives.” Health: An Interdisciplinary Journal for the Social Study of Health, Illness and Medicine 12.1 (2007) 67 –86.
This article by Regina Smardon uses interviews and research to focus on the stigma associated with antidepressants. She mainly focuses her research on the shame surrounding the brand Prozac, a product frequently used in unison with antidepressants. Smardon focuses on reports from a sample of people using antidepressants, and how they deal with them. It compliments Sara Garfield et al.’s research, as both use interviews to as a key part of their research. Using points that Smardon finds within the words of those she interviews will be able to give more insight to the stigma’s true aim, to hurt those who it affects.
Stimmel, Glen L. “Maximizing Treatment Outcome in Depression; Strategies to Overcome Social Stigma and Noncompliance.” Dis Manage Health Outcomes (2001) 9.4 179-186.
The research done in this piece is helpful to me as it deals with the treatment of mental illnesses using antidepressants. An important section to my research focuses on how it can be difficult to deal with patients refusing treatment, and reasons that they refuse their treatments. The research offers perspectives from a physician’s point of view, instead of a researcher’s as the other papers have. This enables me to see both sides of the issue. This source will be very helpful to me as it will enable me to give a more neutral view, instead of a view mainly focused on patients.
In today’s world, anxiety and depression are common disorders, affecting nearly 10% of the population. Treatment for these disorders is commonly the prescription of an antidepressant to help increase mood, which has been proven to be effective in a majority of the cases. Many of those suffering tend to not seek treatment though, and those who do tend to keep their medical history a secret or tell only a close few, as the stigma associated with depression is a harsh one and is difficult one to shake.
Those who suffer are sometimes reluctant to seek treatment, due to embarrassment. Stimmel writes that “stigma and patient denial remain major barriers to the successful identification and treatment of depression” (181). Klitzman agrees, saying that “many patients have difficulty telling a doctor that they feel depressed because of fears of stigma and shame” (1). Although many doctors only pass on their patients to psychiatrists, some of those seeking help hold their physicians in high regard and feel as though sharing this information will cause judgment to be passed. Klitzman continues, saying that “many insurance plans cover little, if any, psychotherapy” (1). Although most Americans have health care, rarely does this coverage include mental health. As most of the population is aware, a visit to the psychiatrist can be expensive, which is another factor in how one is motivated to seek treatment.
Although the stigma is within one’s own mind, the generalization of other people’s feelings is a common defensive mechanism, enabling the person to cope with keeping their usage of antidepressants a secret. Garfield, Smith and Francis back up this point using research, stating “when considering the interviewees’ responses to stigma, Goffman’s (1964) theories on coping with stigma have particular importance in relation to [keeping their usage a secret] and the difficulties that this sometimes caused in social interactions” (533). Many users are ashamed of using antidepressants, citing feelings of inferiority to their counterparts who don’t use antidepressants. Many patients want to avoid the ‘felt’ stigma – the feeling that one’s preconceived notions prior to their diagnosis will be shared with those who haven’t experienced the stigma being aimed at them – above all else.
A majority of those who use antidepressants for depression also have difficulty in social situations where those close to the one suffering might accidentally say hurtful words that can unintentionally portray in a negative light the issues of suicide and depression. For example, a common phrase in youth culture in recent years is telling a friend to “go kill yourself” as an insult. To many of those who don’t put meaning behind the phrase, it is simply blown off. As many people consider it a common phrase in the English lexicon that holds no emotional attachment, the stigma is continued through the callousness of the idea. One could argue that the lack of compassion in the usage of the phrase insinuates the idea that those who need of antidepressants for help aren’t worthy of living in today’s society.
Not only are the issues of depression and suicide taken lightly by a majority of the population, generalizations are made that those who take antidepressants have all been committed to a mental hospital, or the opposite, where those who have been interned for serious issues are seen as having nothing serious. Regina Smardon reiterates this second point, saying that “those who have spent time in mental hospitals and found themselves in the emergency room for suicide attempts are symbolically victimized when they are mistaken for the antidepressant user who is depicted in the mass media as simply irritable and dissatisﬁed” (72). Although there are stereotypes with both extremes, people more and more focus on the severity of mental illness. With countless examples of those with mental illness attacking “normal” people, those who suffer from a mental illness are reluctant to share their experiences. The media portrays a skewed image of those with a history of mental health issues. Many of those affected are forced to be wary of who they tell, for fear that the stigma might create a needless fear towards the one suffering from a mental illness.
There are countless examples of misconstrued notions of mental health disorders, and many of those suffering feel as though they are incorrectly labeled. Users are forced into changing their identity when confronting the usage of antidepressants, using several methods. Garfield et al. report that “these [methods] included rejecting medication, disassociation of medication from a label, passing, sharing experiences with others and challenging the views of others” (527). Although most of these ideas are self explanatory, some require a deeper look. By disassociating from the label of depression, many users reject the reality of their diagnosis and aim for a lighter view, stating that depression is a difficult thing to define. The term passing, in a clinical sense, is the idea of masking the fact that one is taking antidepressants; keeping it a secret. Many users struggle with this, as antidepressants are not to be taken with alcohol, interrupting the normal flow of life for many.
When looking at the issue of the stigma associated with using antidepressants, one must consider the toll that preconceived notions have on those affected. Many of those suffering from a mental illness try to “tough it out” and avoid their doctor to stay away from their own association with society’s notion of them “being crazy.” Through denial tactics, disassociation and sheer secretiveness of their illness, many of those suffering are forced to secretively cope with their disease for fear of negative judgment due to stigmas.
Editorial Team’s Note
Dickey’s miniature research paper with annotated bibliography exemplifies one way of working with research before writing a larger paper. As stated in his reflection, he wanted to find some way to tie in his major, psychology, to the novel. Identifying a point of inquiry, “the mental troubles of the three main characters,” helped him focus in on the specific research he needed. This provided a framework for interpreting specific details of the novel. One great way to come up with something original to say about a novel is to apply another field of study to show a different way of seeing the details running throughout the novel. Dickey does the invention work in his Inquiry 2A to make this happen. The sources he is exploring in this essay are not directly about the novel, but can be applied to novel through his own method of interpretation.